- Craig Kimbrel struck out five hitters in his win over the Brewers and pitched an immaculate inning. Right now, he might be baseball's most unhittable reliever.
After enduring two bumpy seasons in San Diego and Boston, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel has regained his dominant form. In his Thursday afternoon outing against the Brewers, Kimbrel struck out five of the six hitters he faced and recorded the rare immaculate inning in the ninth—striking out all three hitters on three pitches apiece in the Red Sox' 4–1 win. Outfielder Mookie Betts grabbed the headlines with his go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning, but it was Kimbrel who looked like one of the game's most dominant players.
Kimbrel entered a 1–1 game in the eighth inning. After striking out Eric Thames, he caused Keon Broxton to helplessly flail at this slider.
Broxton would strike out on a 98 MPH fastball on the next pitch.
After Betts homered to give the Red Sox a comfortable lead, Kimbrel didn't mince with any of his ninth-inning pitches. He became the second player this season to throw an immaculate inning—the Reds' Drew Storen did it earlier this year—and the Brewers mustered only two foul balls in the entire inning.
Hernan Perez found himself down 0–2 before Kimbrel opted for a breaking ball that appeared to dart across both corners of the plate.
Power-hitting Travis Shaw was Kimbrel's next victim, also to a knee-buckling breaking ball.
Mercifully, Kimbrel required only three more to show off his power and blow away Domingo Santana with consecutive fastballs.
Nine pitches was all it took. He totaled five strikeouts over 20 pitches. It's hard to envision a more dominant relief appearance this season. Kimbrel has long been one of baseball's most feared relievers, but even he's red-hot by his lofty standards. He's struck out twelve of the last thirteen hitters that he's faced and 31 of the 56 hitters that he's faced this season. He now has 31 strikeouts to just two walks and a K/9 ratio of 18.4. The rest of the Red Sox bullpen may be struggling, but if they can get to Kimbrel with a lead, it's hard to see how he blows it with the way that he is pitching.